Here is why free upgrades to Windows 10 still work - gHacks Tech News

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Here is why free upgrades to Windows 10 still work

When Microsoft launched Windows 10 in 2015, it revealed that devices with legitimate Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 licenses could be upgraded to the new operating system free of charge for the first year.

The company pushed harder and harder to get devices running earlier versions of Windows 10 to upgrade to Windows 10.

The company extended the free upgrade offer to devices with accessibility technology and ended that officially in December 2017.

windows 10 upgrade

We tested the free upgrade process several times after the official end of the period and discovered that  free upgrades were still possible. Windows customers who run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 devices can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free, even in late 2019.

Microsoft never revealed why that option remained available, but the company did not terminate the option either. A user on Reddit, who claims to be a Microsoft employee, provided an answer yesterday.

Note: The user has not been verified as a Microsoft employee and it is possible that the information that is provided is incorrect.

According to the post, Microsoft ended the free upgrade offer because of pressure from retailers. Microsoft announced that customers needed a paid license after the upgrade offer expired but this was never enforced behind the scenes.

I work at Microsoft and have been since before the Windows 10 launch. That whole "free" upgrade for a year was fully marketing fluff. After the cut off happened, the direction given was that it requires a paid license HOWEVER, this was brought up by the brick and mortar stores that they were doing simple clock changes on customer devices during the upgrade challenge to get around it and then ultimately it was clear two years later that anything Windows 7 and up would go to 10 fully activated and still to this day.

One reason for that was that Microsoft executives were focused on the 1 billion devices goal for the operating system and that the number of upgrades was more important to Microsoft than the licensing fees that it would get from sold licenses.

WDG didn't care pretty much at all because Terry Meyerson at the time cared more about his upgrade stats than license revenue as Windows isn't Microsoft's cash cow anymore. It's the same stance back in the day where Microsoft would allow Windows Updates on pirated copies of Windows 7 as the bigger picture was to thwart security threats based from those copies.

In other words: Microsoft stated publicly that the free upgrade offer ended but did not end it behind the scenes.

The explanation appears plausible but requires validation before it can be taken at face value. Windows 10 might see a push in January 2020 when Windows 7 support runs out for Home users. These may be able to upgrade to the Windows 10 operating system for free then as it seems unlikely that Microsoft will block the ability in the coming two months.

Now You: What is your take on the explanation? (via Born)

Summary
Here is why free upgrades to Windows 10 still work
Article Name
Here is why free upgrades to Windows 10 still work
Description
Why did not Microsoft stop the free upgrade from earlier versions of Windows to Windows 10? We may have an explanation, finally.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. 7>10 said on November 30, 2019 at 11:36 am
    Reply

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this got blocked in January. They still sell a fair amount of licenses with new PCs, but the market of expiring Windows 7’s is too big to ignore.

  2. Anonymous said on November 30, 2019 at 12:52 pm
    Reply

    aren’t you gonna cover wire delisting from privacytools?

    1. John said on November 30, 2019 at 11:31 pm
      Reply

      Why would they cover whats going on at another website?

      PT isn’t the be all, end all of privacy decisions and they make quite a few bad decisions. For example they list firefox (and tor) as a privacy respecting browser but it has a history of being anything but with “features” like Pocket. The site is supposed to be easy but there is a mile long list of changes needed to make firefox private. I think very few normal people can (or will want to) manage that. Do your own research, make your own decisions and don’t rely too much on any one entity.

      1. Anonymous said on December 4, 2019 at 11:39 am
        Reply

        @John

        The facts/reasons they put for the delisting is what is newsworthy. I think it helps everyone to know (and verify) these reasons regardless of privacytools decisions.

        Cheers

    2. Peterc said on December 1, 2019 at 1:15 am
      Reply

      @Anonymous:

      Completely off-topic, and yet I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the heads-up. *Thank you.*

      Now the question is whether there are any alternatives to Wire that aren’t yet in a position to be subverted. You don’t have to be a “bad guy” — not *remotely* — to value privacy.

      1. MoBo said on December 1, 2019 at 2:37 pm
        Reply
  3. John C. said on November 30, 2019 at 1:01 pm
    Reply

    I’d rather eat dirt than use Windows 10. Too much telemetry (via hardened IP addresses) and mandatory updating. Plus, the UI just sucks too much.

  4. Henk said on November 30, 2019 at 1:46 pm
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    Of course Microsoft is actively manipulating users. What else to expect? Just generosity, or some kind of oversight? Come on.

    Consider me a soon-to-be-extinct dinosaur, but I still will NOT install Windows 10 on my old Windows desktop and laptop, regardless whether it comes “free” or not. This term “free” ignores the fact that you will be paying not only with your user data, but also with gradually increased dependency by (intentionally) decreased freedom to fine-tune your own system. All this from a company growing way too big and powerful and in some respects near-monopolist: a company where commercial interests routinely get priority over user interests (if they even perceive the latter at all).

    Thanks to a lot of personal system-tuning over the years (yes in that way you can say I invested in Windows in the past) I don’t expect that my ancient Windows systems will soon become incapable to safely and adequately fulfill my daily needs. But should they actually begin to fail or fall short, then I will switch to full-time using Linux Mint. This is already the primary system on one of my laptops.

    1. Ran Hington said on December 3, 2019 at 2:28 am
      Reply

      I feel I’m rowing the same boat as you. I bought my current laptop in 2012 and when Windows 10 came out I kept reading bad things about it. I also recall mention that Microsoft was planning to adopt a subscription model like that used by Anti-Virus publishers. While that may have been just scare mongering, I’ve still found no real need to upgrade to Windows 10.

      When this old laptop eventually fails? I’m pretty sure I’ll be installing Linux Mint on my new laptop.

  5. 10>7 said on November 30, 2019 at 2:20 pm
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    It is because if you did a device reload, there is no good way to validate if you previously had applied Windows 10. Therefore the upgrade works.

  6. pHROZEN gHOST said on November 30, 2019 at 4:18 pm
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    Just my threory …

    As we have seen since the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft has done some foolish things that have led to some serious issues with testing. Allowing the free upgrade to continue would proving more free beta testers. This in itself could offset the cash obtained through licensing.

  7. stefann said on November 30, 2019 at 5:26 pm
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    Here is why free DOWNGRADES to Windows 10 still work….LOL !

  8. VioletMoon said on November 30, 2019 at 5:34 pm
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    Not sure why such old news as the acquisition of Wire by US venture capital firms relates to Windows 7 upgrade:

    https://blog.privacytools.io/delisting-wire/

    The whole story–switch to Telegram.

    As for Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrade, I’ve had no problems upgrading computers for other users as long as I avoid several issues that could arise:

    1. Don’t use MS servers per se for making the .iso.
    2. Be sure to install Windows 10 on a “running computer.” No dead, new and fresh installations.
    (as an aside, I would recommend making a backup of the Windows 7 key and authentication
    using a tool such as the discontinued Josh Cell’s Advanced Token Manager)
    3. Run the .iso from a virtual drive such as Magic ISO or Daemon Tools Lite.
    4. Don’t allow updates!
    5. Don’t make a User Account from MS–use a Local Account!

    That’s only what I’ve learned works for me. Others may have better or more to add.

    1. John Tyler said on November 30, 2019 at 11:34 pm
      Reply

      Getting really tired of PTIO going around spamming their site on other sites and subreddits.

    2. Peterc said on December 1, 2019 at 1:40 am
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      @VioletMoon:

      Thanks for the tip on Telegram Messenger. I’ll be interested in seeing how good its voice calls are, as that’s mostly what I used Wire for … as an, ahem, “more private” alternative to Skype.

      1. Wolfie0827 said on December 1, 2019 at 3:36 pm
        Reply

        Try Signal instead. Free and open source. I have had no issues with it in over a years usage.

    3. Emil said on December 1, 2019 at 11:50 am
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      Most of these “tips” are simply nonsense, lol

  9. Joe said on November 30, 2019 at 6:49 pm
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    If it is an oem pc, you can activate Windows 7 with the oem slp stuff.. (Even with Ultimate?) and then get a free upgrade to Windows 10 ultimate.

    Because the keys on the oem sticker with a dell oem computer, isn’t actually using that key.

    So.. you could sell an unactivated windows 7 license, and still use Windows 10 activated more or less for free… Weird.. I guess licenses are not a cash cow… …..

    1. Bobo said on December 1, 2019 at 2:40 pm
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      And on what planet will one find such a thing as Windows 10 Ultimate?

      1. Don said on December 11, 2019 at 5:16 pm
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        Windows 7 Ultimate will become Windows 10 Pro

  10. Haakon said on November 30, 2019 at 7:50 pm
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    Until Microsoft itself issues an official news release announcing a specific timeline for a complementary upgrade from Win7/8 to 10 and thereby guaranteeing that, after time, an “Activate Windows” will never show up, as it very well can, on the Desktop and in various settings, all this “still works” is kaffeeklatsch based on anecdotal rumor and time untested demonstration.

    Cheers.

  11. Frank ReedNavigation said on November 30, 2019 at 8:18 pm
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    It’s also possible to install Windows 10 as a NEW installation and not just an upgrade from an earlier version of Windows. For example, you can install Windows 10 on a Mac with Bootcamp installed directly from the standard Windows download. This is not widely-known, and it’s a great thing. If you own a Mac, you automatically own a Windows PC, too, for any tools or software or even development requirements that require Windows. More: https://www.howtogeek.com/244678/you-dont-need-a-product-key-to-install-and-use-windows-10/

    There are two catches with “Unactivated Windows”:
    1) a small “watermark” appears on-screen in the lower right that says
    “Activate Windows
    Got to Settings to Activate Windows”
    This is remarkably unobtrusive. I rarely notice it even watching video.
    2) Screen “personalizations” are not available, however it is easy to assign a desktop background image.

    And that’s it. Beyond these minor cosmetic impacts, you have a fully-functional installation of Windows 10 with no sign that this will change in the future. Note that there is a “legal” requirement that Windows must be activated within 90 days, but, similar to the endless upgrades described in this article, Microsoft does not enforce this 90-day limit. It is functionally similar to a traditional shareware licensing arrangement.

  12. nonw00t said on November 30, 2019 at 8:52 pm
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    Well ms had always been pretty liberal when it comes to windows (and office) activations. A simple phone call to them with any bs explanation does the trick too.

  13. Mic said on November 30, 2019 at 8:54 pm
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    I’ve upgraded several people from 7, 8 and 8.1 to 10 using Windows Media Creation Tool.

  14. d0x360 said on November 30, 2019 at 9:27 pm
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    The whole win10 users are beta testers is such nonsense it’s ridiculous. It started and continues because of clickbait.

    Yes there have been some patches that cause issues but they only cause issues on about 5% of machines.

    I’ve been running win10 on 2 systems since launch and I’ve only had a single Update cause a problem and it was a fast ring update. I’ve never had a regular update give me any grief and even if it were to have happened it takes about 2 min to remove the update.

    FUD.

    As for why upgrades are still free, that’s simple. Windows is now a platform for other services. Microsoft makes more money on $2 a month OneDrive users than they ever did on any version of Windows. Add in gamepass which is quickly becoming huge and they will make a ton more money.

    Enterprise is also a huge money maker as is office so charging the home user for a Windows 10 license is actually a barrier to making money.

  15. Joseph said on November 30, 2019 at 10:12 pm
    Reply

    Win 10 ftw.

  16. basicuser said on November 30, 2019 at 10:13 pm
    Reply

    What is your take on the explanation?
    Sound’s reasonable. MS has a long history of making patently false/deceptive statements.

    An example from Martin’s screen grab above:
    “After it’s installed, Windows 10 is all yours!”

    So W10 is no longer by subscription or copyrighted, and is now FOSS?
    How generous. /s

  17. JohnnyB said on November 30, 2019 at 10:22 pm
    Reply

    Micropuff NEVER stopped giving 10 away from the day it came out. They are getting tough with the licensing coming to the end which is the end of 7. Once that bird flies no more free 10 unless your dev or under the desk …

  18. DollarBill said on November 30, 2019 at 10:23 pm
    Reply

    Henk is correct. Stop using Windows and move to Linux Mint. I have a brand new HP laptop with Windows 10 preloaded. I’ve never even booted to it. I just installed Mint 19.2 Cinnamon and it’s my daily driver. Stay away from Microsoft Malware.

  19. Loren Forslund said on November 30, 2019 at 10:26 pm
    Reply

    #1 – Upgrade Win-7 to Win-10, activate with your Microsoft account.
    #2 – Wipe the drive and do a fresh install of Win-10, activate with your Microsoft account.
    #3 – Finish all upgrades.

    We have had a lot of trouble with inplace upgrades of 7 or 8.1 to 10. It seems that there are too many old and corrupt files saved during the upgrade that cause trouble later. If you do not set the activation to your Microsoft account you will not get the activation after wiping and doing a fresh install. In the past few months I have had either no trouble with an upgrade or no possible way even calling Microsoft to get it activated.

  20. M. Davidson said on November 30, 2019 at 10:42 pm
    Reply

    Related somewhat, let’s keep up the encouragement for our friends at microsoft to consider including the option to remove all telemetry and data collection components with a simple easy to access opt-out option on all editions. This alone would allay the concerns of security professionals, EU states, others over concerns of data sovereignty and privacy.

  21. Richard Steven Hack said on November 30, 2019 at 11:01 pm
    Reply

    When you can buy Windows 10 licenses for $10 or so from the “gray market” sellers – who buy them from OEMs with overstocks or going out of business in Europe and Asia where such things are legal – why bother jumping through hoops? Microsoft almost always recognizes those licenses as legit.

    The Tech Deals guy on Youtube always lists a gray market reseller and he’s said many times that most of his Windows 10 machine licenses he uses are from those gray market resellers with no problems.

  22. Dave said on December 1, 2019 at 12:57 am
    Reply

    All you refusing to install windows 10 ‘now’ will be asking for help from us that already have ‘when’ you are forced to do it.

    (With the exception of those old pc’s and laptops that are still usefull but can’t run the newer OS – I have a laptop in the garage I keep all my music and car manuals on that’s running a fresh (never updated once) XP install. OFC it’s never been connected to anything but a mouse, speakers, and power cord either.)

    10 is not going away no matter how hard you wish it. The earlier versions are and that’s a fact you may deny but can not avoid.

    I waited over a year to make the initial switch and still wait months on any upgrades but I prefer my knowledge to be just as up to date as the latest OS. If your not learning how windows 10 works now, your putting yourself at a disadvantage.

    It’s human nature to adapt.

    1. Anonymous said on December 12, 2019 at 11:15 pm
      Reply

      Thanks for the laugh. If “forced” to upgrade to Windows 10, I’ll just upgrade to Linux.

      It’s not like I’ll suddenly forget how to use a GUI if I have to use Windows 10 for something.

      I’ve successfully provided paid tech support (including successful malware removal) to someone using Win10 while not actually running it locally. Your assumption of “not knowing because not using” is faulty.

  23. Brandon said on December 1, 2019 at 1:14 am
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    I have upgraded alot of laptops at work from 7 pro to 10 pro. I can say first hand those laptops were alot faster at startup and shutdown. I think they slowed down windows 7 on purpose to push people to 10.

    1. Malte said on December 1, 2019 at 1:05 pm
      Reply

      No. It’s because by default Windows 10 doesn’t shut down the PC but instead it goes into hibernate mode. You can change this behaviour in the system settings, though.

  24. W7 User said on December 1, 2019 at 6:15 am
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    I believe there is an additional explanation here too- After W10 launched, one had the ability to purchase a PC with W10 that was “back-graded” to run W7. Many enterprise and business users chose this route as they life-cycled hardware. The W10 license did not contain a “must upgrade by ‘x’ date”. Thus, if MS blocked upgrades to W10 (keeping in mind that the customer already paid for a W10 license), it would seem that MS would be violating their own licensing ageement.

  25. Justin said on December 1, 2019 at 8:43 am
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    Microsoft has shifted, just as many other companies have to a subscription model. Free Windows 10 keeps people on a platform where they are able to pay subscription fees for their other cloud based services, Azure, Office 365, Sharepoint, etc. They also get a marketing share of apps sold in the Windows store. There is very little money in selling static licenses anymore. In essence, every copy of Windows out there is a little passive potential revenue source for Microsoft. Making it harder to work in Windows is to send the recurring revenue business to Google, Apple, or Amazon. Not that people don’t still use Windows to access non-Microsoft sources. But much fewer if any Apple or Chromebook users are paying for Microsoft cloud services and apps. Amazon doesn’t have an OS in the game, but AWS certainly is a big competition for Azure. Keeping Windows free and easy to upgrade make Azure services much easier for small to large size organizations instead of switching to AWS or Google Cloud.

  26. BDM said on December 1, 2019 at 9:24 am
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    So where do I download legit Windows 10 Pro .iso from Microsoft?
    Will the .iso be a recent release version (e.g. won’t require much updating, via Windows Update)?
    Has anyone here done this ‘free upgrade’ recently? If so, any tips?

    1. John said on December 1, 2019 at 6:50 pm
      Reply

      Here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10
      Use the media creation tool, follow the directions.

      1. Erin said on December 2, 2019 at 7:07 pm
        Reply

        You have to read the details provided on the site which states the following…

        “Here’s when to use these instructions:

        * You have a license to install Windows 10 and are upgrading this PC from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
        * You need to reinstall Windows 10 on a PC you’ve already successfully activated Windows 10.”

        Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

    2. Anonymous said on December 1, 2019 at 9:44 pm
      Reply

      Yes I have done this recently about 2 weeks ago. Lots of issues getting in place upgrade to work but by following hints from around the web finally got it. However had lots of interaction with ms support during whole process and although they recommended buying a new license it was to do it an easier way as they couldnt get inplace to work, there was no real pushback on me doing free upgrade

    3. nealis said on December 1, 2019 at 11:45 pm
      Reply

      I built a new computer recently. I had a old Windows 8.1 pro license laying around (it will also work with Windows 7 licenses). I just installed Windows 8.1 via usb via Rufus USB (Martin has a good write up on Ghacks) which has a built in iso downloader. Then installed Windows 8.1 until it booted to desktop.

      Made sure it was activated. Then I just downloaded the Windows 10 update assistant from Microsoft. Just run it, I followed the directions and prompts and now I am on activated Windows 10 pro on a new computer.

    4. Eternal Tech said on December 2, 2019 at 1:13 am
      Reply

      You can download the Windows 10 ISO directly from Microsoft at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 . Click on the “Download tool now” button.

      This will download the most recent Windows 10 version, which as of this writing is version 1909.

      The tool will allow you to place Windows 10 on a USB flash drive or DVD. If you are want both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, be sure to choose the advanced options to select both.

      You can do an in-place upgrade from this USB flash drive or DVD (run the setup file from within Windows), but I nearly always boot from it and then install a clean version of Windows 10. If Windows 10 is installed on the computer already, then the product key should not have to be entered. However, if you are doing an upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, then you may need the product key for this old version. When installing Windows 10 and first prompted for the product key, choose the option that states that you do not have a product key. Once the installation completes, you can then enter the product key in Settings > Update & Security > Activation; be sure the computer is connected to the Internet for this step.

      If you create a Microsoft account, instead of a local account, the product key will be associated with your account. Therefore, if you perform a clean install in the future, entering a product key will not be necessary.

  27. RonF57 said on December 1, 2019 at 11:36 am
    Reply

    So where is the info released by maximumpc years ago on how to upgrade win 10 home to win 10 pro? I remember the trick had something to do with activation codes for win 7 pro/ultimate

  28. Notan Ideot said on December 1, 2019 at 1:04 pm
    Reply

    Or, maybe it’s the fact that Win10 is optimized for backdoor access and commercial spying which is more important than a one time fee.

  29. Jiggles said on December 1, 2019 at 1:16 pm
    Reply

    It’s free to upgrade and free to download and install because YOU are the product. Just like Facebook and Google you are being sold, not the software.

  30. High noon said on December 1, 2019 at 2:54 pm
    Reply

    I cannot believe this option would ever go away. I say push it out again and get those old win7, win 8 junk out of here .

  31. Anon said on December 1, 2019 at 4:08 pm
    Reply

    People suggesting using Linux, LOL.

  32. Hank Parker said on December 1, 2019 at 4:46 pm
    Reply

    I’m totally fed up with Microsoft! I will purchase a new computer that runs Linux.
    Simply stated, being an 82 year old senior, my tolerance for bs is “0”.
    MS CRAP!

  33. Boy Named Sue said on December 1, 2019 at 5:58 pm
    Reply

    I worked with CokeRobot and can confirm they are actually a Microsoft Employee

  34. Dave said on December 1, 2019 at 6:42 pm
    Reply

    @Jiggles Someone who understands ;)

  35. Tee boner said on December 1, 2019 at 7:27 pm
    Reply

    Why would anyone want this garbage?

  36. Leroy Jenkins said on December 1, 2019 at 7:30 pm
    Reply

    At least I got chicken…

  37. Anonymous said on December 1, 2019 at 8:38 pm
    Reply

    John C. You can change the settings of your PC to not have a hardened up address aslongs you have a dynamic up address available. Also most internet providers only give you so many ip address I miss the disconnect reconnect new up days lol

    1. Rukbat said on December 8, 2019 at 12:10 am
      Reply

      “I miss the disconnect reconnect new ip days lol”

      You still can, but most cables are totally filled up these days, so you disconnect, wait an hour, reconnect, and there’s still only that same slot for you to get. Wait until a general power failure and you’ll probably get a new IP address.

  38. Jeff K said on December 2, 2019 at 12:43 am
    Reply

    I just upgraded one tonight. No issues. 12-1-19

  39. WindowsLovesMe said on December 2, 2019 at 5:45 pm
    Reply

    Slic 2.1 bios mods. They still work but it’s not for the faint of heart. Easy to get windows 10 ultimate.

  40. Jessica said on December 2, 2019 at 10:53 pm
    Reply

    I purchased a Windows 10 Pro CD- which was legit- and attempted to install it on my 10 year old PC that has Windows 7 Professional (I upgraded from XP to 7 about 3 years ago). It couldn’t install it due to to a “critical feature, Prefetch W, not available on the processor- apparently, the processor is too old? Is there a way to get around this? besides buying a new computer?

    1. Rukbat said on December 8, 2019 at 12:08 am
      Reply

      New motherboard and new processor? A lot cheaper, and you get what YOU want, not what some computer maker wants. (This box is now running an ASUS motherboard and a Rizen 7 3800x. It started out with a low-end i5. The new motherboard also let me install a couple of 2TB M.2 SSDs, and the performance is kind of amazing. Ant it was A LOT CHEAPER than buying a cheapie computer that couldn’t compete with this one’s power cord.)

  41. Mr. Botnet said on December 3, 2019 at 7:57 pm
    Reply

    Botnet

  42. Anonymous said on December 4, 2019 at 7:01 am
    Reply

    Makes more sense if you call it Windows X Box than windows 10.

  43. Inskipp said on December 9, 2019 at 9:58 pm
    Reply

    Done tons of 7 to 10 updates recently, and when an in-place upgrade fails, I just do a clean install of 10 and use the old 7 key during install and haven’t had a single activation issue.
    I think a big part of the reason it still works has to do with the prior upgrade policy. Since they made all 7 and 8 keys work during the update window, I could see it being difficult to revert that.
    I use the media creation tool of whatever build is current, today that’s 1909.
    If you are still on 7, I don’t see any risk in taking advantage of it.

  44. Anonymous said on December 13, 2019 at 12:09 am
    Reply

    Holy s… It really worked.
    At least did the windows installation say so.

    BUT!
    Upon installing, they demanded a lot of agreement from me, non optional, I MUST use email, you MUST enter birthdate, you MUST accept that we collect data and stuff, you MUST accept…..

    Nah, Linux here we come!

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